Wadkins reflects on Wyndham Championship
August 12, 2014
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Lanny Wadkins has a long and storied history with the event, and it has had a personal impact on him. (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Lanny Wadkins made his first start ever on the PGA TOUR in 1969 at what was then called the Greater Greensboro Open.
Wadkins was a freshman at Wake Forest, which is located about 30 miles from Sedgefield Country Club, where the GGO was played. He opened with a 69 and made the cut, but finished 15 shots behind the champion, Gene Littler.
Wadkins would go on to win the same tournament, now known as the Wyndham Championship, in 1983, beating Craig Stadler and Denis Watson by five strokes, in a Monday finish at Forest Oaks. He competed in the tournament 24 times and posted six other top-10 finishes.
The World Golf Hall of Famer remembers fighting his swing the week he won. Maybe more importantly, though, Wadkins changed putters midway through the tournament, going back to the one he used when he won the 1970 U.S. Amateur and 1977 PGA.
"I had eight putts the last nine holes and bogeyed 18 to win by five, so I kind of blitzed them on the back nine at Forest Oaks," Wadkins said. "I think I had the greatest break of the day. The pin was in the back right of 10 and I pushed my 7-iron second shot just to the right, and it hit a lady's purse.
"It was probably from me to you off the green, and it kicked down to about six feet and I made it for birdie, and that was all I needed, and after that here we go, just the floodgates opened."
Wadkins was headed for New York Tuesday night to work as the lead analyst for the Golf Channel's broadcast of the Dick's Sporting Goods Open. But he will watch the Wyndham Championship this week with considerable interest -- for several reasons.
Lanny Wadkins on watching Jack Nicklaus clinic at age 16 before Wyndham
First of all, he's well-acquainted with the former Deacon golfers in the field, particularly Webb Simpson, who played with Wadkins' son, Travis, at Wake Forest. Secondly, as an eight-time Ryder Cupper and the 1995 captain, Wadkins is taking a critical eye to Tom Watson's potential picks.
"There's a couple of guys here this week if they were to win would probably lock up a spot on the team in my estimation, or get close," Wadkins said. "I think Tom's going to be watching probably four to five guys closely in the next few weeks. My situation, I didn't have that luxury. I had to pick the Monday after the PGA was over and then wait six weeks.
"There are a couple of guys, personally, I think he would like to see play well. Usually when you're looking at a Captain's Pick the first thing you look at is a guy who can make putts under pressure. First person who comes to mind for that for me with that is Snedeker, seeing someone like that. He's going through some swing changes with Butch Harmon so we'll see how that works out. ...
"So it's going to be very interesting to see how it all plays out. I think that's where everybody's watching right now. I think that's one of the main focuses on this tournament this week is to see how these guys perform."